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Three things to watch in Virginia basketball’s revenge game against Notre Dame

The ‘Hoos look to avenge their worst defeat of the season Wednesday night.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

If Virginia misses out on the NCAA tournament this season, it may well be due to the late December loss to Notre Dame. Maybe you can blame the exam and holiday breaks; the team played 3 games in 3 and a half weeks. Some rust is expected. But Notre Dame is very bad.

Here is our preview from that first game. With that in mind, here’s three things to watch for in this rematch.

Game Time: Wednesday, January 31, 7PM Eastern
Streaming: ESPN

Three Point Shooting

The most notable thing about that first game was the shooting. Notre Dame shot 11-23 (48%) from deep. Virginia shot 2-11 (18%) from deep. If you knew nothing else about this game, you’d assume it was a blowout win for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame shot 9-18 on above the break threes. That’s insane. They were also 4-4 on mid-range jumpers, including this one. Sometimes, it just isn’t your day.

I mean come on. This is not a good shooting team. In fact, they are very bad at shooting. They rank 301st in effective FG%. They are bad.

For the Hoos, it isn’t just the shots that drop. It’s important just to hunt those outside shots. It makes the defense play the perimeter, and that opens up the middle and also opens up offensive rebounding opportunities.

The Hoos took 15 midrange jumpers in that game. And made 4 of them. That’s 26%. You can’t run an offense like that.

The Paint

Somehow, Notre Dame managed just 5 second chance points in that game, despite collecting 37% of their own misses. I guess that’s what happens when don’t miss many shots. Also, some of those offensive rebounds were in garbage time.

Notre Dame has some size inside, with two bigs on the floor most of the time. And yet there were non-garbage time minutes of this game with Ryan Dunn has the biggest Cavalier on the floor. That’s not going to happen now, not with Jordan Minor starting.

On the season, Virginia has allowed a 28% offensive rebound rate. With Minor on the floor that’s 22%. With Minor on the floor in ACC play, that’s 19.2%, which would lead the country in lowest offensive rebounding rate allowed.

Jordan Minor changes the outlook of this team, especially against a team like Notre Dame with size inside.

The Rotations

It isn’t just Jordan Minor moving from an afterthought to a starter. It seems like Tony Bennett is altering his rotations more than he normally does at this point in the season. Some of it is matchup dependent. Blake Buchanan plays a few extra minutes against a bigger team. Dante Harris plays a few more minutes against a team with two quick guards. Etc.

But then you see Taine Murray getting 18 minutes per game over the past two, after 3 per game the previous two. Andrew Rohde played just 12 minutes against NC State, but was back to 28 minutes against Louisville. Leon Bond played 19 minutes in the first Notre Dame game. Don’t expect that again, unless this is a blowout. Which it might be.

Prediction: Wahoos 68 - Irish 50